A bill under discussion in the Iowa House would raise the fee charged to cellphone users to run the emergency 911 system from 65 cents to one dollar so it would match the fee that’s charged on most landline phones. Representative Bob Kressig, a Democrat from Cedar Falls, says local call answering centers need more money to continue answering all those emergency calls.
“There’s a significant need with making sure that E911 is there, so that when you make a call for an ambulance or a police officer — guess what — somebody shows up at the house or where it’s at and that’s the critical part of this bill,” Kressig says.
Susan Cameron is a lobbyist for landline provider CenturyLink. “We really don’t think its right that wireline customers are paying a greater share when most calls are coming from wireless. And wireless calls take more time to respond to because you get multiple calls for a single event,” Cameron says.
Backers of the bill say the higher surcharge on cellphones will help provide the revenue that local call answering centers need to comply with expensive new F.C.C. mandates for upgrades. The upgrades include the ability to send texts and videos on a 911 call.
The bill would also take away the right of cities and counties to enact fees of more than one dollar on landline bills.